Pavel Bure became the first player in Vancouver Canucks history to score 50 goals on this date 25 years ago. In celebration of the milestone, look back at the first 50-goal scorers in the history of other active NHL franchises.
It was at about this time 26 years ago that Pavel Bure was putting the finishing touches on his Calder Trophy-winning rookie campaign, winning the award with a 34-goal, 60-point season that made it clear Vancouver had found something special in the speedster. But the Calder-winning season was only a taste of what the ‘Russian Rocket’ could do.
The next season, his first full campaign in a Canucks uniform, Bure was almost unstoppable, scoring when and how he wanted on a near nightly basis. And when the campaign concluded, Bure had set franchise records in Vancouver, becoming the first player in team history to score 50 goals in a season and stretching his Canucks record by finishing the campaign with 60 goals to his name.
That first milestone — the 50th goal — came exactly 25 years ago today. And in celebration of Bure’s brilliance, look back at the first 50-goal scorers in the history of each current NHL franchise:
Paul Kariya — 1995-96
You had to know it was going to be a tossup between Kariya and Teemu Selanne, but the former beat the latter to the punch with a 50-goal, 108-point campaign as a sophomore. It also just so happened that Kariya was putting the finishing touches on his 50-goal year as Selanne arrived from the original Winnipeg Jets.
Dale Hawerchuk — 1984-85
Back before the Coyotes moved south, the Jets had a superstar in Hawerchuk. He won the Calder as a rookie and a scant three seasons later was the runner-up for the Hart. Selanne and Keith Tkachuk also hit 50 in Winnipeg, and Tkachuk is the only player to score 50 since the franchise moved to the desert. He had 52 in 1996-97.
Phil Esposito — 1970-71
The Bruins had to wait until the post-expansion era to have their first 50-goal man, but they also had their first 75-goal scorer that same season as Esposito went off. He finished the campaign with equal goals and assists totals, capturing the scoring title with 152 points. He went on to have four more 50-goal seasons in Boston.
Rick Martin — 1973-74
It was a short but prolific career for Martin, who burst onto the scene in 1971-72 with 44 goals and 74 points in 73 games as a rookie. His sophomore season saw him put up nearly identical point totals, but Year Three was stunning as Martin registered 52 goals and 86 points. He scored 50 again the next season, but never again reached the mark.
Guy Chouinard — 1978-79
Chouinard fits the bill as a sneaky 50-goal guy. He scored 35 goals in 162 games over the first four seasons of his career before breaking out with a 50-goal, 107-point season while the franchise was still in Atlanta. Chouinard peaked early, though: he spent only five more seasons in the NHL and his production dipped to 12 goals and 46 points by 1983-84. He retired the following season. In 1982-83, Lanny MacDonald became the first to score 50 in Calgary.
Blaine Stoughton — 1979-80
After spending some time with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs, Stoughton made the jump to the WHA and spent two seasons in the league before the Hartford Whalers were absorbed by the NHL. And upon returning to the league, Stoughton had an outstanding 56-goal, 100-point season. He had another 50-goal year in 1981-82, but remains the only player in franchise history to reach the plateau. No one in a Hurricanes sweater has managed the feat.
Bobby Hull — 1961-62
He might be the most obvious name on this list. Hull was as natural a goal-scorer as there has been in league history, and his 50-goal season in 1961-62 was the start of a run that saw him score at least 50 in five of the next 10 seasons. He was alone on the Blackhawks’ list of 50-goal men until Al Secord notched 54 in 1982-83. Jeremy Roenick in the only other 50-goal scorer in franchise history.
Jacques Richard — 1980-81
A Quebecois player by the name of Richard scoring 50 goals in his home province? We’ve heard that one before. But don’t go confusing Jacques with Maurice. While the ‘Rocket’ has become the symbol of goal-scoring in the modern NHL, Jacques Richard would be best compared to a flash in the pan. He had only 84 goals and 180 points in 384 games prior to his 52-goal, 103-point breakout and he was out of the NHL by 1983-84. For those wondering, Joe Sakic’s 51-goal season in 1995-96 made him the first Avalanche player to reach the milestone.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
The Blue Jackets have had some pure goal scorers in their lineup, but even Rick Nash was unable to score 50 in Columbus. Twice, he flirted with the plateau, scoring 41 times in 2003-04 and putting up 40 goals in 2008-09, but those are the best marks in franchise history. If he gets hot at some point, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Artemi Panarin come close to 50 goals. He has already scored 30 goals twice in his young career.
Dino Ciccarelli — 1981-82
In 76 games, Ciccarelli score 55 goals and 106 points. How’s that for a sophomore season? The next few seasons in Minnesota were a bit more trying for Ciccarelli, but he hit the 50-goal and 100-point milestones again in 1986-87 when he registered 52 tallies and 103 points. Brian Bellows was the only other North Star to hit 50 in a season, while Mike Modano is the only player to score 50 since the franchise moved to Dallas.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Mickey Redmond — 1972-73
No, this isn’t an error. Redmond was in fact the first 50-goal guy in Detroit, scoring 52 in 1972-73. If you’re wondering how this isn’t a mark held by Gordie Howe, consider this: ‘Mr. Hockey’ didn’t have a single 50-goal season in his entire career. He came close, scoring 49 in 1952-53, but that was his personal high-water mark. It’s also been nearly 25 years since Detroit last had a 50-goal scorer, as Sergei Fedorov was the last to hit 50 back in 1993-94.
Wayne Gretzky — 1979-80
Who else, right? Gretzky out of the gates as a 19-year-old and scored 51 goals in his first season in the NHL. He then went on to score at least 50 in each of the next eight seasons, including his unforgettable 92-goal, 212-point season. One of these years, Connor McDavid is going to need to snap Edmonton’s 50-goal scorer drought, though. No Oilers player has scored 50 in the past three decades.
Pavel Bure — 1999-2000
You can chalk it up to being in the right place at the right time if you want, but there’s a reason Bure is the only player to appear on this list twice. Even during a time when scoring came at a premium, he was able to post remarkable goal totals. In 1999-2000, his first season with the Panthers, Bure fired home 58 goals and won the Rocket Richard Trophy by 14 goals. He scored 59 the following year to win a second straight Rocket.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Marcel Dionne — 1976-77
Once Dionne broke the 50-goal plateau, which he did in his sixth season in the league, it was like he went into a goal-scoring trance as he went on to score at least 50 in each of the next five seasons. And almost as soon as Dionne’s days were through in Los Angeles, Luc Robitaille arrived on the scene to pick up where Dionne had left off. It’s been some time since Kings fans have seen 50, though, as Robitaille’s 63-goal season in 1992-93 season makes him the last player to score 50 for Los Angeles.
Like their modern expansion counterparts, Minnesota hasn’t had that one unstoppable goal-scorer come on board and wire home 50 in a season. However, much like the Blue Jackets, the Wild have had one of their young players come close. In 2007-08, Marian Gaborik lit the lamp 42 times, making him the lone 40-goal scorer in franchise history. Eric Staal looks like he might break Gaborik’s team record, though, as he’s on pace for 43-goal campaign.
Maurice Richard — 1944-45
He was the first to score 50 in a campaign for the Canadiens, yes, but Richard’s 50-goal season was made all the more special by the fact he was the first player in NHL history to reach the mark and he did so in 50 games. Scoring 50-in-50 is one of the sport’s rarest benchmarks, and few would have thought it was possible before Richard. Montreal is patiently awaiting their next 50-goal scorer, though, as no Canadien has managed 50 since Stephane Richer in 1989-90.
Forget 50 goals. Forget 40 goals. Heck, don’t even worry about 35 goals. As it stands, the record for goals in a single season by a Predators player is 33 — Jason Arnott set the mark in 2008-09 and Filip Forsberg followed suit in 2015-16. It might be a while before anyone breaks the franchise record or hits 40 goals, either. Nashville is deep and Forsberg can get as hot as anyone, but they don’t have an unstoppable sniper in their ranks.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
One might think the Devils, given their success in the late 1990s and into the new millennium, would’ve had a 50-goal scorer at some point in franchise history. But nope. That’s not the case. Have players flirted with 50 goals? Absolutely, as Alexander Mogilny, Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta and Zach Parise have all eclipsed 40 goals in a season for New Jersey over the past two decades. Gionta’s 48-goal 2005-06 season remains the best in franchise history, though.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Mike Bossy — 1977-78
As far as natural goal-scorers go, there are few who can rival Bossy. As a 21-year-old, Bossy hit 50 goals for the first time in his career, and he proceeded to score at least 50 in each of the next eight seasons, even surpassing the 60-goal plateau five times during that stretch. Only three other Islanders players have ever scored 50 goals in the season, and Pierre Turgeon was the last, scoring 58 in 1992-93.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Vic Hadfield — 1971-72
While other Original Six franchises have a lengthy list of 50-goal scorers, the Rangers’ group is thin. Hadfield became the first to score 50 when he had a 106-point campaign in 1971-72. Adam Graves followed suit with 52 goals in the 1993-94 campaign. And Jaromir Jagr set the Rangers’ mark when he scored 54 in 2005-06. But the Blueshirts haven’t had any 50-goal players since and the current rebuild won’t see that happen for a while.
Dany Heatley — 2005-06
Alexei Yashin and Daniel Alfredsson were the Senators’ first real stars, but it took the acquisition of Heatley for Ottawa to finally have its first 50-goal guy. Coming out of the lockout on a high-powered Senators squad, Heatley wired home 50 in 2005-06 and followed suit with another 50-goal campaign in 2006-07. He followed it up with 41 goals in 2007-08, and that’s the closest any Senator has come since.
Rick MacLeish — 1972-73
The Flyers didn’t have to wait long to find their first 50-goal scorer as MacLeish managed the feat shortly after Philadelphia entered the NHL. Reggie Leach, Bill Barber and Tim Kerr followed suit shortly thereafter. What might surprise some, though, is that Eric Lindros failed to reach 50 goals even at the height of his career and that the Flyers haven’t had a 50-goal scorer since John LeClair in 1997-98.
Jean Pronovost — 1975-76
If this list has taught us anything, it’s that a franchise’s first 50-goal guy isn’t necessarily the one you’d expect. Case in point: Mario Lemieux was the fifth player in Penguins history to score 50 in a season, coming in behind Pronovost, Pierre Larouche, Rick Kehoe and Mike Bullard. Also worth noting: Pronovost only narrowly beat out Larouche to 50 goals. Though Larouche had 53 goals to Pronovost’s 52, the latter scored his 50th 10 days before the former.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Jonathan Cheechoo — 2005-06
One magic year is all it takes, and when Cheechoo got paired up with Joe Thornton in the first year after the lockout, the duo instantly clicked and became almost unstoppable. By the time the campaign came to a close, Cheechoo had fired home 56 goals and registered 93 points. He’s not quite at Jacques Richard’s level when it comes to being a flash in the pan, but Cheechoo failed to ever reach the same heights.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Wayne Babych — 1980-81
Another example of an unexpected 50-goal scorer. Babych had only scored 53 goals in the previous two seasons combined before his incredible 54-goal effort, and he had only 85 goals in 315 games after his 50-goal campaign. Still, he was the first Blue to hit 50 goals. Of course, Brett Hull reached the plateau consistently once arriving in St. Louis. But the Blues haven’t seen another 50-goal guy since Hull’s 1993-94 campaign. Vladimir Tarasenko, you’re up.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Vincent Lecavalier — 2006-07
Steven Stamkos’s 60-goal campaign is still pretty fresh in the minds of hockey fans, and we are not too far removed from the 51-goal season that really put him on the map. But before Stamkos was torturing goaltenders, Vincent Lecavalier was turning heads in Tampa Bay. He was absolutely excellent during the 2006-07 season for the Lightning, and his 52-goal campaign was the franchise’s best until Stamkos came along.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Rick Vaive — 1981-82
This is one of those oddities. The expectation would be that Toronto, at some point in their history, had a goal scorer who was among the league’s best and blasted home a bushel of goals. Truth is, though, that Vaive’s 54-goal season was the first time any Maple Leaf reach the milestone and only two other players in franchise history have scored 50 in a season: Gary Leeman and Dave Andreychuk. The franchise record is 54 goals, and that seems like something Auston Matthews might be able to challenge.
Pavel Bure — 1992-93
Here’s how good Bure’s 1992-93 campaign was for the Canucks. First, he became only the fourth player in franchise history to score 40 goals. Then, he became the team’s first 50-goal man. And by the time Vancouver ended their season, Bure had netted 60, which is a franchise record that still stands. He was the most exhilarating player in the league by a mile.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
At the start of the 2017-18 campaign, it would’ve been shocking to suggest that Vegas would end up with even one 25-goal scorer this season. But, as we approach the playoffs, the Golden Knights are in line to have not one, not two, not three, not four, but five players with at least 25 goals. Beyond that, William Karlsson has already scored 34 — that would be a record on the Predators — and is threatening to reach 40 this season. If he gets hot late, and we’re talking white-hot, he could potentially hit 50 before time is up.
Dennis Maruk — 1980-81
The Capitals have a history of 50-goal men. Maruk became the first when he scored 50 in 1980-81, and he followed that up with 60 the very next season. After him, it was Mike Gartner who hit 50 goals in 1984-85, along side teammate Bob Carpenter, who did the same. Then, it was Peter Bondra who had two 50-goal seasons in Washington. And now, Capitals fans have been lucky enough to watch Alex Ovechkin put together one of the best goal-scoring careers in NHL history. At his current pace, he will register his eighth 50-goal year by season’s end.
Ilya Kovalchuk — 2005-06
While other expansion teams from the same era haven’t had the good fortune to be equipped with a 50-goal scorer, the Atlanta Thrashers found just that in Kovalchuk. Early in his career, he terrorized netminders, putting together a pair of 52-goal campaigns by the time he was 24. The second of those seasons came in 2007-08, however, which means it’s been a decade since anyone in the franchise has scored 50 in a season. No Jets player has done so, of course, but it may only be a matter of time before Patrik Laine hits the mark.